How Wraps and Parking Sensors Can Work in Harmony
Providing some clarity in the long-running debate on whether vinyl wraps affect parking sensors.
Taken from www.averydennison.com. Written by Ryan Allen, Regional Technical Specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, December 2018.
The quest to be the first and the best in the automotive industry has produced advances in technology that create a driving experience that is easier, safer and more enjoyable. Originally patented in 1988 by two Italian inventors, Massimo Ciccarello and Ruggero Lenci, the ultrasonic parking sensor made its way to the production line in 2003. Toyota Prius was the first car model to make a chiming sound as a vehicle’s bumper hurled itself toward the concrete parkade wall. What followed was a storm of different inventions from the reverse camera and 360 viewing, to park assist and fully autonomous self-parking.
Here’s a quick lesson on how parking sensors work. The sensor emits a sound pulse in a frequency undetectable to the human ear. A receiver detects the reflected waves of sound and from there calculates distance from your vehicle to the object. If your vehicle is not equipped with sensors, they are available as an aftermarket option through the majority of aftermarket accessory websites or brick and mortar stores.
Parking sensors are particularly tricky when it comes to wrapping, and they have been an item of discussion among installers since their conception. The debate continues 15 years later. I have heard installers mention that films with metalized layers or chrome finishes create noise and obstruct the sensors’ ability to properly identify range. We have not seen a significant change in the ability to properly sense range due to wraps, but it is always best practice to wrap, trim and post heat before testing on each vehicle. Here are three different methods for wrapping vehicles with sensors
Sensors Removed from Vehicle and Wrapped Separately
Sensors Wrapped with Separate Pieces after Initial Wrap
Tuck and Trim Technique
Recently on a trip to Edmonton, Alberta in Canada, I noticed ice and road debris on the back of a car at an intersection. I asked Ryan Nopps, of Nopps Wrap Inc. in Edmonton, if he had ever run into issue with sensors due to weather and wraps.
“I’ve wrapped parking sensors several different ways. Not once, have I ever had any issues with them not functioning normally. I have removed and wrapped, wrapped directly over with a tuck and trim technique and cut separate pieces to do each individually, and the film has not affected functionality,” said Nopps. “When wrapping chrome, I will individually wrap the sensor in a black material. This will insure the sensor works properly if the metallized layer causes interference.”
In 9 years of installing vehicle wraps, he has yet to have a car come back for an issue with the sensor.
Wrapping the parking sensor adds that extra touch and completes the wrap, and whether you choose to wrap in the same color or a contrasting color, you’ll have created an individualized and creative work of art. The choice is ultimately up to the installer; make safety a priority, and always verify the sensors work accurately before releasing the vehicle to its owner.